Julie Maroh’s first book, Blue Is the Warmest Color, was a graphic novel phenomenon; it was a New York Timesbestseller and the controversial film adaptation by French director Abdellatif Kechiche won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Maroh’s latest book, Body Music, marks her return to the kind of soft, warm palette and impressionistic sensibility that made her debut book so sensational.
Set in the languid, European-like neighborhoods of Montreal, Body Music is a beautiful and moving meditation on love and desire as expressed in their many different forms—between women, men, and gender non-conformists alike, all varying in age and race. In twenty separate vignettes, Maroh explores the drama inherent in relationships at different stages: the electricity of initial attraction, the elation of falling in love, the trauma of breaking up, the sweet comfort of a long-standing romance.
Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship will see themselves in these intimate stories tinged with raw emotion. Body Music is an exhilarating and passionate graphic novel about what it means to fall in love, and what it means to be alive.
DAR! chronicles the six year long autobiographical story of Erika Moen, a lost 20-year-old lesbian artist-wannabe in college who falls in love with a boy in England and the evolution that her sexual identity undergoes before winding up marrying him as a queer 26-year-old full-time cartoonist. Along the way there are many vignettes about sex, farts, the queer community, the Brits, vibrators and figuring out sexual identity.
(This is the comic that preceded Erika Moen's Oh Joy Sex Toy)
From Issue 1:
The first issue in the new comic series based on the hit dating sim by Game Grumps! "Much Abird About Nothing."
It’s college reunion time! Who’d have thought that it's already been fifteen years since Keg-Stand Craig and the new Dad on the block went to college? This one’s like a buddy cop comedy, only there are no cops and more avoiding old flames while trying to stifle an existential breakdown, bro.
You can buy all the books there, too.
Girls With Slingshots debuted on October 1st 2004, both online and in stapled-paper form at SPX in Bethesda, MD. Since its humble beginnings as a twice-weekly black-and-white webcomic, it became a self-sustaining color webcomic that updated five times a week, Monday through Friday.
The strip's two main characters, Hazel and Jamie, sprung to life in a strip called Hazelnuts around 1996, an unintended prequel to GWS. The GWS title was based on a recurring request Danielle used to get at comic conventions to draw a girl with a gun (she sucked at drawing guns, so she drew them with slingshots instead).
GWS has been collected into ten books containing 200 strips each, which are available through TopatoCo. A hardcover collection of all of the strips (plus some bonus material) in color will be available in late 2017/2018.
Girls with Slingshots was one of my first "must-read" webcomics. The bond between BFFs Hazel and Jamie keeps the strip meaningful, even when Hazel is an apathetic sad-sack and Jamie is rushing into something again. Readers will fondly tell you of vibrator jokes, cactus shenanigans, a cat that says "doooooooom," and a bartender who makes drinks with the best names ever. Secondary characters include a barista turned cafe-owner, a dominatrix, an asexual love interest, a Mall Santa love interest... and you'll love them all.
This isn't a "romance comic" so much as a funny, heartwarming, slice of life comic that features romantic happenings as much as any human life might. It's on this list because romance readers will like it.
From Volume 1:
From critically acclaimed creator Natasha Alterici (Gotham Academy) comes an Nordic fantasy adventure that defies conventions and expectations. Aydis is a viking, a warrior, an outcast, and a self-proclaimed heathen. Aydis is friend to the talking horse Saga, rescuer of the immortal Valkyrie Brynhild, and battler of demons and fantastic monsters. Aydis is a woman. Born into a time of warfare, suffering, and subjugation of women, she is on a mission to end the oppressive reign of the god-king Odin.
Collects the first four sold-out issues!
It's Robin Hood like you've never seen him before, based on scholarly and historical speculation about what's really behind the outlaw's legend.
13th century England. Robert Godwinson, former lover of King Richard, lives with his band of Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, away from the watchful eye of Prince John, who has outlawed homosexuality. Though isolated, the men live in peace—that is, until a stranger enters their camp seeking aid for a nearby town besieged by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robert—nicknamed Robin—is reluctant to help, but equally eager to get rid of this perplexing stranger... and to put his formidable bow-and-arrow to use. It's Robin Hood like you've never seen him before, based on scholarly speculation about what's really behind the outlaw's legend.
Order from your local bookstore!
Colleen Cavanaugh’s home world is ruled by Derichets, a tyrannical alien race bent on exploiting the planet’s mineral resources. Most of her family died in the war, and she now lives alone in the city. Aside from her acquaintances at the factory where she toils for the Derichets, Colleen makes a single friend in Jann, a member of the violent group of rebels known as the Chromatti. One day Colleen receives shocking news: her niece Lucy is alive and in need of her help. Shattered Warrior is a gripping science fiction adventure with a sweeping romance at its heart.
SHATTERED WARRIOR is a solidly YA graphic novel, but with lots of violence and, in Matt's words "an attempted rape scene and a boob." So, trigger warning for sexual assault and violence. (The breast in question is visible after a very subtle and consensual interlude.) All this has led to my R-rating, but I think it's totally appropriate for teens.
On to an actual review! SHATTERED WARRIOR is a modern take on classic themes of invasion, colonization, rebellion, and hope. The book includes a diverse cast, a bisexual hero, and acknowledgment of the ways in which privilege impacts our relationships and our approach to the world. Contains people doing awful things for the greater good, a good guy/bad guy in the Derichet establishment, and a heroine terrified of loving anyone (because they all die).
I picked up the book at least 90% because I love Molly Ostertag's art, so you can be sure that I found the artwork compelling. Because of the dirty, war-torn state of the humans and their environs, entire pages are rendered in shades of brown and gray. It's lovely and evocative. In her first graphic novel, writer Sharon Shinn has taken a step back and allowed panels to speak for themselves, not inserting dialogue or exposition where the setting can tell the story. It's a partnership I'd like to see more of.
Speaking of wanting more... My biggest gripe with the book is that it's one 246-page volume. The story is one of an epic struggle, and (spoiler?) ends with the beginning of a new war. I don't often say this, but I wish this was a duology or a trilogy. There aren't gaping plot holes, but certain plot points feel rushed, as does some emotional development.
Should you read it? If you want sci-fi with romantic elements and some people making hard choices and holding onto their humanity... yep. If not, I guess don't read it. I'm not really a sci-fi fan and I really enjoyed the book, however.
If anyone from First Second reads this - I would like a sequel with Lucy's story, please.
A bisexual, polyamorous love story for the modern era. Hazel is already in a happy relationship when she meets Argent, a dominatrix who’s sweet and tender outside of the bedroom. Sugar Town is a fun, colorful comic about a young woman’s journey through the delights and disappointments of multiple lovers.
Sugartown is, I believe intentionally, hard to categorize. The main character, Hazel, is in an open relationship with Gregor. She's in Portland, OR for the summer, while Gregor is back home in NYC. She meets a super-cute domme, Argent, at a club one night, and the two strike up a friendship/relationship.
The book explores themes of jealousy, long-distance relationships, communication, and queer friendship, but none in depth. The art is super cute, but the writing is a little stilted, almost as if the creator was trying to say a lot in not a lot of pages. I've listed it as "definitely a romance," since Hazel and Argent are in a relationship by the end of the book, with I-Love-Yous and so on. I believe that Hazel's relationship with Gregor also deepens and evolves throughout the book. As for sexiness, there's some mild nudity and sexual situations, but that's it. I gave it an R simply for a flogging scene, otherwise it'd be PG-13.
The entire thing is broken up into four mini-issues, each around 15 pages. The entire book is 52 pages, including title and so on. This wouldn't be a problem, if not for the fact that the book ends up at $10. I understand that indie comics are most costly to produce, but the insides weren't oustanding enough for me to recommend it to my readers at that price. If you find it on sale, go right ahead!